South Africa’s KRUGER PARK and BIG CAT RESERVE photo safari - August 2014
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 20th Aug 2014
We visited the Big Cat Reserve for 3 nights followed by 8 nights inside the Kruger National Park at Lower Sabie and Satara Camps.
This time of year in Southern Africa is a good time for game viewing as the animals are drawn more and more to the last water sources. From this point on it will get progressively more difficult for the herbivores and easier for the carnivores as the weak, old and young animals begin to feel the pressure due to less good grazing and less water.
First up, the big Cat reserve provided some great opportunities with the two young female leopards, in their camp close to the lodge. Ntombi the Cheetah graced us with her presence on the plains near Bush Camp and the Cheetah Boys, Floppy and Hunters made two kills during our stay. Being able to get so close to these adult male Cheetahs is still one of the highlights of the trip. Hippo, porcupine and a Bushbaby called "peanut" were some more highlights.
We then entered into the Kruger National park via Orpen Gate (Vehicle 1) and via Phabeni gate (Vehicle 2) On route to our first camp we came across the Nwaswitsontso Lion pride just north of Tshokwane. They had just finished a Zebra kill and were relaxing on the banks of the river.
Lower Sabie is famous for the great photo opportunities at Sunset Dam, a mere 200m from the camp gate. We spent a whole morning at the dam photographing the residents as well as two male Lions that came to drink on the far side of the dam. Fish Eagles, Giant Kingfishers, Egyptian Geese, Yellow Billed Storks, Hippos and Crocodiles kept our trigger fingers happy.
The afternoon drive took us out to the Mlondozi picnic site area where we stayed with two male Cheetahs who were resting up for the day. It was a lucky day for us and the cheetah but unlucky for a young zebra foal who stumbled right into the resting Cheetah who gave chase. Sadly the Zebra foal was knocked down by a few of the fleeing adults and the Cheetahs grabbed it right in front of us.
We spent a good deal of time at some waterholes in the Kruger which proved to be very successful, Rhino, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Warthog, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Zebra and a beautiful male Leopard were photographed.
Apart from the Cheetah and Zebra incident, we were very lucky to see three more chases which ended up in the prey getting away, and perhaps the best chase and catch sequence I have seen and photographed yet in the Kruger. On this occasion a Lioness waited in ambush on the bank of the Sweni River, just south of Satara Camp. A small herd of Zebra came in to drink and the result was an amazing chase through the river where the Lioness managed to catch a young Zebra foal. Such a sighting is really quite rare to see and we were really very lucky and fortunate to have been able to witness, and photograph it.
A few other highlights were a number of small Spotted Hyaena cubs who emerged from their roadside den, approx 700 Buffalo drinking from Girivana waterhole, the two leopard cubs and their mother in the Nwatimhiri River north of Lower Sabie and the 4 young male Lions we met on the road towards Crocodile Bridge.
The randomness and surprise factor in the Kruger is second to none and when the conditions are right it is a really amazing place to spend time in.
Many thanks to our two amazing rangers at the Big Cat Reserve, Deon and Matt, thanks so much for all your hard work getting us the great shots that we did. Thanks also to all the staff at Tshukudu for looking after us so well.
Thanks also to the amazing WILD4 backup team, mum and dad - thanks for all your help, the amazing meals and endless energy you have which make this trip such a great success.
Finally I want to thank Mike Lentz for guiding the second vehicle in Kruger, it was a privilege to have had Mike on the trip with his amazing knowledge gained during more than 10 years in the bush, Mike I hope we get to have you again on more WILD4 photo safaris.
Here are some photos from the trip - enjoy
Kind regards from the WILD4 team.
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This was simply an outstanding photographic safari all round – by far the best that I have been on! As a keen enthusiast photographer, looking to step up a level with view to entering 2 competitions later in the year, I could not have hoped for more. Excellent ! The family based Wild4 team is personable and friendly and went the extra mile all the way through. They are very well organized and their prompt and helpful responses to queries pre-trip ensured they were easy and a pleasure to deal with. Stu Porter can pitch his photographic tuition at any level and his attention to detail and enthusiasm was spot on throughout this trip. I was surprised by just how much I learn’t because I was quite comfortable with my photo technique on arrival. I have easily adopted his full-on manual approach, every bit of which he was able to justify - a revelation! I am quite picky, but I cannot praise these guys enough and I will be back. Very many thanks to the whole team.
I could not imagine a more competent and friendly company to take us on a photo safari of Kruger. This was my first visit to Africa, but I never had to worry about anything while on the Wild4 Photo safari. Everything was well planned, including the lodging, meals and "drives" into the game park. Your safari vehicle had lots of room to spread out and it was easy to get photos from both sides. The elevation of the pickup bed is well above ground, so you have the feeling of security and also a good vantage point and angle to shoot photos. I had hundreds of photo opportunities, even with my limited zoom lens and other small cameras. Our guide, Kosie was extremely knowledgeable on the wildlife, birds, trees and even had handy info on his ipad. We certainly had all the "big 5", the "ugly 7" and other categories in the bag after just a few days. We enjoyed seeing several camps and met many fine, helpful people along the way. By the way, the African coffee is excellent, and we took many enjoyable "coffee breaks" during our 10-days in the Kruger. If you want to see the animals...WILD4 Photo Safaris will definitely make that dream come true. Thanks to all. Dave Truax
Dave Truax, USA